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Tips for Making the Relocating Process Easier on Your Family

written by: Olivia Emisar•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 8/9/2011

Military families relocate at a moment's notice on a regular basis and their children go through the same feelings of leaving friends behind as any other child from any other family. One of the main advantages in the military is preparation and consistency in the relocation process. We can do that!

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    It is normal to feel uneasy when relocating – whether for a new job opportunity or because the company values and trusts your experience and expertise will make a new location more successful. If this is the case, keep the other family members excited about how valuable mom or dad is and how interesting and exciting the new place will be by researching the state, city and nearby neighborhoods online.

    Start with the location of employment online and work outwards to find and research the following:

    • Entertainment
    • Family neighborhoods
    • Real Estate - take virtual tours of homes and neighborhoods
    • Crime statistics
    • Grocery stores
    • School's ranking and rating
    • Day care services
    • Banks and credit unions

    Narrow down the options and do everything that can be done online and long distance because once you arrive to your new destination, there is a level of comfort about being in control of your own living environment without having hundreds of loose ends to tie up before achieving a comfortable routine.

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    Narrow down the options to rent a property for a minimum of six months in the desired location and commit the time to establish the family in the community and explore other areas that might suit the family interests better. There are many things that can be done online to ensure that the essentials needed for the family are in place before arrival.

    • Rent the property online through a rental agent or realtor.
    • Open a bank account.
    • Establish the day utilities are to be turned on in your name a couple of days ahead of arrival.
    • Secure the moving company ahead of time and the day they'll arrive. Ensure the company arrives at your location the day after you arrive and you have all the pertinent phone numbers and ways to track your household goods.
    • Get rid of clutter early on - Donate and have garage sales for items not worth packing or furnishing and those that can be replaced for less than the cost of shipping them.
    • Call schools and talk to principals to ask pertinent questions regarding the school's strengths and teacher to student ratio. Find out your children's teachers names. Your children will feel less anxious reading about the school online and becoming familiar with their teacher's face on the school's website.
    • Plan a folder with relevant paperwork: Account numbers, phone numbers, utility's names, numbers and addresses. Include children's immunization records and each family member's medical records. Have a copy of school transcripts and the names and phone numbers used regularly in the current city. You may need to call them back for records or references once in your new location.
    • Mail packages to yourself that will arrive the week you are at your new location. This includes boxes of books at the book rate from the post office, which will save you a lot of money from having the moving company do it.
    • Everyone in the family must take ownership in the packing process to ensure a measure of control and avoid feeling that things are being done to them, instead of with them.
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    Little Kids and Big Kids

    It is normal for adults to feel uneasy about relocating for a job and kids are not immune to anxiety and fears. Children have legitimate fears about being uprooted and need reassurances and honest communication from their parents in different dosages throughout the process.

    Parents should stress the benefits to the family unit and maintain a positive attitude about this new stage in the family's life and share their own concerns without blowing them out of proportion. Kids pick up on parental anxieties faster than we give them credit for and tend to internalize and magnify them quickly.

    Children in elementary school need reassurance that they will fit in and be able to make new friends, but they also suffer from separation anxiety from friends, neighborhood settings and routines. Keep the communication open and reassure them that the most important things are moving with them: their family. Focus on the activities they enjoy now and give them the responsibility of researching those activities online in their new location. This serves the dual purpose of familiarizing themselves with the area and empowering them with a measure of control in the relocation process.

    If the kids are in the first three or four years of elementary school, it is best to keep reassuring words consistent and the explanations short and simple to reduce anxiety and unfounded fears. Only make promises that you can keep once the family arrives at the new location.

    Big kids need time to say goodbye to their friends in person and know they won't be forgotten once they leave. Social media keeps them in touch through the miles but planning impromptu outings, small gatherings and sleep overs to get as much closure as possible is necessary to slowly disengage and be able to move on emotionally.

    If mom or dad have to travel back for business, and if it is feasible, assure the teenagers that they will return to the area and spend time with their old friends on a specific date. This will ensure continuity and help to reduce anxiety. When it comes to teenagers, talking is not as necessary to relieve their fears as listening, so be a good listener and don't ask questions. Simply start open-ended conversations and allow them to say whatever is on their mind at that particular time.

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    Settling In

    Once you arrive: Schedule days to register vehicles and get a new driver's licence for you and your teenagers. Take the kids to their new school and allow them to be part of the enrollment process so they can assess their new school on their own. Schedule a few days to give the family time to unpack and claim their space. Plan unpacking breaks by taking neighborhood walks and introducing the family to neighbors and get a real feel for the area. The idea is to extend the family's roots and make everyone feel part of the new community in the easiest possible way.


  • The Daily Beast:
  • Images: Research by photostock / / Relocating by digitalart / / Family by photostock /
  • U.S. Department of Transportation: